Wise entrepreneurs don’t panic when a pandemic hits. Instead, they look for creative ways for everyone to benefit from it. As such, it’s no surprise that drive-in movies are making a dramatic come-back this year all across the United States, largely due to the COVID-19 social distancing mandates. It’s also no surprise that St. John is following suit.
This month, TWO drive-in theaters are making their cinematic debut – St. John’s Classic Drive-In Theater in Susannaberg, just a few minutes past Cruz Bay in the field across the road from Canines, Cats, & Critters (our island veterinarian), and Eccentric Drive-In Theater in the ball field in the heart of Coral Bay.
Cars loaded with families, friends, and couples lined the field for the grand opening this past weekend in Susannaberg. Snuggled up in blankets in the back of pick-up trucks or in the front seat of their cars, movie-goers snacked on popcorn and frosty beverages from the concession stand while watching Into the Blue, later followed by Mulan, with the sound delivered through their FM stereo systems. If you are disappointed about missing Mulan this past weekend, you’ll have another chance this coming weekend at the Coral Bay grand opening, with Fantasy Island to follow.
The theaters will feature a wide variety of movies each week, from comedies, dramas, classic black & whites, children’s films, and recent releases. Tickets are a bargain, with both theaters charging $10.00 per movie for adults, and $5.00 for children over the age of five.
Drive-in movies originated in the 1930s in New Jersey, when a gentleman named Richard Hollingshead wanted to create an opportunity for his mother – a sizeable woman – to be able to enjoy a movie without having to squeeze into the theater seats. Using sheets nailed up between trees and a Kodak movie projector mounted on the top of his car, he quickly realized he was on to something that had the potential to be a hit. He patented the concept shortly thereafter, and in 1933 the first drive-in movie theater was opened.
It’s a somewhat of a mystery why the drive-in lost its appeal in the 80s and 90s. One can speculate that VCRs and cable television played a role. But there’s no question that drive-in theaters evoke feelings of nostalgia and romanticism in movie-lovers. It’s a reflection of a more simple time, when cell phones and computers were just make-believe fantasy-gadgets featured in the latest sci-fi flick on the big screen. Drive-in theaters are more than just watching a movie; they are an entire experience.
We couldn’t be more excited about these new options that allow us to safely get out of the house to relax and spend quality time with our loved ones – an enjoyable night out that we can all use about now!